Diss quartermasters store closes

A Diss businessman has blamed extortionate rates and a recent roadworks scheme for the closure of an independent shop that has been in the town for more than 30 years.

Pete Gillings, who owns the Old Quartermasters Stores, decided to shut up shop this week after trade was hit by a six week closure of St Nicholas Street.

The businessman, who set up the government surplus shop 35 years ago, said the store had 'died a death' when the road was closed for a county council footpath repaving scheme, which was completed last week.

Mr Gillings, who also runs a scrap yard in the town, said he could no longer afford to pay the business rates at the shop.

'For years they have been charging too much for rates and it is cheaper to have a shop in Bury St Edmunds, which is one of the top shopping towns in the country.'

'The straw that broke the camel's back was the road closure that finished us off and there is no way I can get compensation for that,' he said.

Mr Gillings said he would be moving the stock from the shop in St Nicholas Street to his scrap merchant business in Mission Road.

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'I had one of the oldest original shops left in Diss. I have been holding on since last Christmas, but the trade never came back. There are not many original shops left,' he said.

The latest road closure in Diss comes as Wakefield-based company Sportswift looks to open a Card Factory at the former YMCA charity shop in Mere Street, which shut last month.

South Norfolk Council is drawing up a market towns action plan to help reverse the decline of local high streets.